A Levels: The next steps to University

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Top tips for managing a student budget: A Beginner’s guide

Balancing money over a calculator

When you start university, one of the first experiences you’ll have, is likely to be Fresher’s. And the temptation to spend is everywhere! Experience shows that most of you will be on a tight budget during the rest of the academic year, which can be a bit of a challenge – particularly if you haven’t had to manage money before! But fear not, as we have devised a few handy tips to guide you through the process

Shopping bags

Budget like a boss


Working out a budget sounds incredibly boring doesn’t it? But it’s so easy to blow your whole year’s allowance in your first month at the Uni if you’re not careful!

How about making it fun, instead of just making an EXCEL spreadsheet? There are some great apps out there to help you keep track of your money such as: MoneyDashboard , Goodbudget or Spending Tracker. You can use them to keep track of your income and outgoings across all your accounts. Some of them can even predict your future expenditure and/or create charts and graphs if you find that easier to digest the info that way.

However, if you don’t want to use an app, and you’re a hater of spreadsheets, there’s some fantastic budget calculators on the web, like Brightside Student Calculator.

Or, if you really want to go back to basics, you can always write it down in your diary or notebook! Start by putting down your income, take away the cost of essential expenditures, divide by the number weeks until your next loan and there you go! You have a figure of how much to spend each week on non-essentials!


Eat smarter


The importance of planning your meals ahead could not be overstated! Trust us — it is so easy to fall into a habit of picking up everything from the takeaway, and not cooking for yourself. And it’s scary how quickly it all adds up! Preparing your own food is a great way to save money, but there’s no need to cut back on the ingredients you love, especially if you’re supermarket-savvy! Try to shop at least once or twice a week, make a shopping list and STICK TO IT! Don’t be tempted by the special offers! Also, staying away from household brands and opting for a supermarket own range can give you a hefty saving on filling the fridge, and more often than not, you won’t compromise on quality. It also gives you the chance to show off your mad cooking skills when you come home on the weekends.


Sell off what you don’t use

This includes books, clothes, and appliances etc. The kind of stuff that sits around your room and gathers dust. They could be valuable to someone, so why not head to Amazon, eBay, ASOS marketplace, or even Facebook groups, and you could find that they can help boost your bank account! 🙂

If you’re struggling to decide what to get rid of, use the following questions as a way of deciding if you really need it:

When did you last use it?


What else could you have bought with that money?


Realistically, when will you next use it?


Think about any memberships you don’t take advantage of too. If your gym card is gathering dust in your wallet, it might be worth cancelling the membership and saving yourself the monthly fees.

Choose your bank wisely

Banks target students more than any other population group, which means that they actively compete with each other to offer the most attractive package.

Many banks have special offers to students such as student bank accounts with long-term interest free overdrafts and added bonuses such as free railcards and various other freebies. Have a shop around before committing to one, and get the best deal you can!

Make the most of your student discounts

As a student, you can get almost anything at a discounted rate – all you have to do is ask! Discounts include:


  • As a student, you can get almost anything at a discounted rate – all you have to do is ask! Discounts include:


  • Council tax — full-time students in further and higher education are usually exempt from paying council tax, so make sure you’re not paying unnecessarily



  • NUS extra card — a payment of £12 a year will save you loads on a variety of items across a wide range of fields, including Fashion, Food and Drink, Travel, Mobile etc .



Apply for a scholarship or bursary

Check out our dedicated page and see whether you are eligible to apply for any additional financial help from the University itself. You never know, you might be entitled to a student grant that you didn’t know about…Every little helps 😉

Consider a part-time job

Depending on the course you’re studying (and your time management skills!), you might find that you have few spare hours a day or evenings per week. Why not use this time to earn some extra cash? You also get the added benefit of work experience and developing skills which could help you in future job hunts after the Graduation. You can register with our on-site recruitment agency for students and graduates — Unitemps. They can offer anything from one-hour shifts to full time work for several months either on-site (like at our library, canteen, Student Centre, events and marketing team etc.) or with an external employer if you prefer.


Self-Control is keyPiggy Bank

It is so tempting to rush out and buy a new games console, or a huge TV when you first get your loan, but this can lead to financial panic later on in the term. Self-control is key here, but if you really struggle, avoid the shops! Alternatively, if the pull of the shops is too much, try and ask yourself “Do I really need this?” when you’re spending out in the shops or online.

We know managing money can be a tough one, but we also know that you can do it (we believe in you!). However, if these tips don’t help, and you find yourself in need of more advice, our financial guidance team is here to help!

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